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The Logit Equilibrium: A Perspective on Intuitive Behavioral Anomalies

  • Simon P. Anderson


  • Jacob K. Goeree


  • Charles A. Holt


This paper considers a class of models in which rank-based payoffs are sensitive to small amounts of noise in decision making. Examples include auction, price-competition, coordination, and location games. Observed laboratory behavior in these games is often responsive to asymmetric costs associated with deviations from the Nash equilibrium. These payoff asymmetry effects are incorporated in an approach that introduces noisy behavior via probabilistic choice. In equilibrium, behavior is characterized by a probability distribution that satisfies a "rational expectations" consistency condition: the beliefs that determine player's expected payoffs match the decision distributions that arise from applying a logit probabilistic choice function to those expected payoffs. We prove existence of a unique, symmetric logit (quantal response) equilibrium and derive comparative statics results. The paper provides a unified perspective on many recent laboratory studies of games in which Nash equilibrium predictions are inconsistent with both intuition and experimental evidence.

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Paper provided by University of Virginia, Department of Economics in its series Virginia Economics Online Papers with number 332.

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Length: 40 pages JEL Classification: C72, C92.
Date of creation: Nov 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:vir:virpap:332
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  1. Dufwenberg, M. & Gneezy, U., 1998. "Price competition and market concentration : An experimental study," Discussion Paper 1998-27, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Rosenthal, Robert W, 1989. "A Bounded-Rationality Approach to the Study of Noncooperative Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 273-91.
  3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 1998. "Price Competition and Market Concentration: An Experimental Study," Working Paper Series 1998:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 1998. "Learning in games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 631-639, May.
  5. C. Monica Capra, 1999. "Anomalous Behavior in a Traveler's Dilemma?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 678-690, June.
  6. C. Monica Capra & Charles A. Holt, 1999. "Coordination," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 630-636, January.
  7. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
  8. Charles A. Holt & Jacob K. Goeree, 1999. "Stochastic Game Theory: For Playing Games, Not Just for Doing Theory," Virginia Economics Online Papers 306, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  9. Simon P. Anderson & Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 1998. "Rent Seeking with Bounded Rationality: An Analysis of the All-Pay Auction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 828-853, August.
  10. Glen W. Harrison & Jack Hirshleifer, 1998. "An experimental evaluation of weakest link/best shot models of public goods," Levine's Working Paper Archive 299, David K. Levine.
  11. Anderson, Simon P. & Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 1998. "A theoretical analysis of altruism and decision error in public goods games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 297-323, November.
  12. Simon P. Anderson & Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 1999. "Stochastic Game Theory: Adjustment to Equilibrium Under Noisy Directional Learning," Virginia Economics Online Papers 327, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  13. Charles A. Holt & Jacob K. Goeree, . "An Experimental Study of Costly Coordination," Virginia Economics Online Papers 326, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  14. Basu, Kaushik, 1994. "The Traveler's Dilemma: Paradoxes of Rationality in Game Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 391-95, May.
  15. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 1999. "Altruism and Noisy Behavior in One-Shot Public Goods Experiments," Virginia Economics Online Papers 331, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  16. Selten, Reinhard & Joachim Buchta, 1994. "Experimental Sealed Bid First Price Auctions with Directly Observed Bid Functions," Discussion Paper Serie B 270, University of Bonn, Germany.
  17. Roth, Alvin E. & Erev, Ido, 1995. "Learning in extensive-form games: Experimental data and simple dynamic models in the intermediate term," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 164-212.
  18. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
  19. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
  20. Mookherjee Dilip & Sopher Barry, 1994. "Learning Behavior in an Experimental Matching Pennies Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 62-91, July.
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